Tuesday, 30 April 2013


This is what 270 kilometers worth of bus tickets looks like in India. The Snow Lion Hotel. Sunset in McLeodGanj. The Himalayan view from lunch. Hipster milkshakes. A himachal thali. Finally a coffee that is real coffee. Now that's a pancake. Cows in the road is totally normal in India. The spinning wheels at the Dalai Lama's residence. A moving documentary in the Tibetan museum. Republic Day falls on Australia Day so we celebrated. Mutton something, it was good. Chocolate biscuits. Another food snap. Another coffee. India vs. England ODI in Dharamasala. Slurpy. Another snap of the cricket. Another cow.
Mcleod Ganj wasn't on our list of places to visit in India, but we'd heard a couple of backpackers talk about it (and hop on a bus there) and after a bit of research we decided to see what people were talking about. And we saw! Although the journey there was less than pleasant - a broken seat on a bumpy crowded slow local bus through the windy hills - as soon as we arrived we were glad we'd done it. Mcleod Ganj was the first place that I experience touts. As I was getting off the bus (they don't even want until you've gotten off the bus sometimes!) a tout shoved a business card in front of my face and started his spiel. And I said no. And he ignore me. And I said no. And he kept going. I'd never experience this kind of in your face desperation and after a long day of travelling (buses give me motion sickness!) I couldn't deal with it. I cried in the middle of the road. Once I recovered myself we found a nice little (very!) place to stay and got ourselves settled. I should stop and thank my travel buddy for helping me recover. 

Since 1960, after his exile from Tibet, it has been the official residence of the Dalai Lama, and since then thousands of Tibetan refugees have crossed the Himalayas to settle in the hill station. I didn't know anything about the situation in Tibet, so after a morning exploring the temple complex and spinning the golden wheels, I spent an afternoon in the Tibet Museum learning about the history of the Tibetan people's fight for freedom. I watched an incredibly moving documentary about the Tibetan refugee's journey. It is incredible what so many people - it is estimated that up to 4,000 Tibetan refugees arrive in Mcleod Ganj each year - go through to escape rights abuses in Tibet. What is even more incredible is that Tibetan people are always smiling. I don't think I saw a frown on anyone (apart from myself that first night, and when I found out we'd have to take a local bus out of McLeod Ganj) the whole time I was there.

The food in McLeod Ganj was incredible too! The Himichal thali at Moonpeak Cafe was one of the best thalis I had in India, and the garlic butter nann and butter chicken and Mclo was delicious - and we didn't even eat it all. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. We also had a good coffee (it's rare in India!) and one of the best pancakes ever. 

We were lucky that on our last day in McLeod Ganj there was a cricket match - India vs. England. We really wanted to go to a cricket match because India people are so enthusiastic about it. It's not a game, it's a religion. Whenever we told someone we were from Australia, they would reply 'Ricky Pointing' with a big smile on their face. We managed to get tickets (for R1200) and our seats were right next to a camera. Every time the camera turned to the crowd the crowd went nuts. Everyone jumped up and down, jumped on their seats and waved their hands like mad! Unfortunately we didn't get to see the whole match as we had to leave to hop on a bus. But it was an amazing experience that I won't ever forget.


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